South African students are facing a unique kind of stress. Along with the societal and education-centred pressures that every student in the world has to deal with, South African students are also having to deal with the stress of a country that is facing high levels of unemployed youth. This means that students are having to put in extra effort with their studies in order to ensure that they have the best chance of securing a stable future, whether that means getting a job straight after the finish matric or getting a good enough Grade 12 result that they are able to study further. 

Understanding the Mental Health Landscape in South African High Schools 

In 2021, some 65% of young people, including students, said that they were struggling with their mental health. The stress of the COVID lockdowns as well as other stresses that affect students has caused an unprecedented mental health crisis and what’s more, is that most people don’t seek help for their mental distress. 

For high school students who are struggling, the need to seek care is vital, because it directly affects their future. If they are unable to focus on their studies, they will not only be unable to achieve their academic goals, but they will be even more stressed out because they realise they are not performing as well as they could. 

High school students are also still developing, which adds to the stress they face. 


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Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Concerns 

As a parent of a high school student, it is important to know the most common signs of mental health issues in teenagers. While some of the “teenage anguish” that some youngsters deal with might not seem like a big deal to an adult, they are a big deal to the student, and so you must pay attention and provide care. 

Common signs of mental health issues include:

  • Sadness that lasts more than 2 weeks 
  • Withdrawal from things the child used to enjoy
  • Self-harm 
  • Speaking about death and suicide 
  • Harmful behaviour 
  • Outbursts
  • Irritability 

Creating an environment in which your child feels comfortable talking to you is important. And if you feel way out of your depth, seek professional help for your child. 

Promoting Positive Mental Health in High School 

High school is tough for any child, but the school can play a huge role in making their lives easier. Parents and teachers should come together to discuss how they can help students, and they shouldn’t just focus on those who are already struggling. Setting up programmes at the school that focus on promoting positive mental health in high school can also prevent students from falling into a destructive thought pattern. 

As the parent of a high school going child, you should always pay close attention to their child to spot any signs of mental health distress. And as a parent you should also contact your child’s high school to find out more about what mental health support is on offer. 

At Kleinwater College we are committed to caring for our students so that they can experience the best education. This is partly what makes us one of the best schools in Witbank. You can contact us for more information about our school and our facilities.